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Monday, May 20, 2024

Staff Council survey highlights staff concerns in Vermont and Monterey

The Middlebury Staff Council conducted a survey in September 2021 asking staff at the college and Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey about working conditions across the institution. Fifty-four percent of eligible employees responded to the survey.

Over the past year, the college faced staffing shortages paralleling national trends. Some staff have left the college for other jobs and better pay, while others have retired or pursued other opportunities outside the college.

Staff generally reported high levels of satisfaction with the college’s Covid-19 policies and reported low levels of satisfaction with compensation and professional development. 

Compensation was an issue for staff members. While many felt positively about their benefits package, staff in every department reported high levels of dissatisfaction with salaries. Custodial and facilities staff again reported particularly high levels of dissatisfaction.

Among all staff at the college, 46% reported needing a second source of income to make ends meet, with as high as 76 and 75 percent of staff in custodial and facilities services, respectively, reporting needing a second income.

Staff salaries have been a source of dissatisfaction for several years. The lowest wages offered at the college — $12.80 per hour — lies below the $14.01 living wage for a single adult without children in Addison County. For two working adults with a child, the living wage is as high as $17.30. 

As minimum wages have risen in Vermont, wage compression has also become a source of tension for staff. New hires can start at salaries comparable to staff who have worked at the college for more than a decade, because internal raises have not matched the pace of minimum wage increases.

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Staff across the institution reported a lack of opportunities for career development, but facilities (District F) and custodial (District J) staff reported particularly high levels of dissatisfaction with advancement at the college.

The Staff Council conducted a similar survey in 2016, asking many questions that reappeared on the 2021 survey. Responses were more negative in many categories, with responses to “How satisfied are you working at the college?” and “I have opportunities for professional growth” seeing notable decreases.

Editor's Note: Editor at Large Sophia McDermott-Hughes contributed reporting. 

Tony Sjodin

Tony Sjodin ’23 is a managing editor. 

He previously served as community council correspondent, senior writer, news editor and senior news editor.  

Sjodin is majoring in political science with a focus on international and comparative politics. He previously held internships with the Appalachian Mountain Club's Outdoor Magazine, political campaigns in Massachusetts and Vermont, and the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica's Environmental Hub. Outside of class, he leads kayaking and hiking trips with the Middlebury Mountain Club.